Sally Heckel is an independent filmmaker who directs, writes, edits, produces and often shoots her films.
Heckel's latest film, Unspeakable, is her first feature. Twenty years in the making, it's a non-fiction narrative exploring her father's suicide and the deeper truths revealed about the American family. It recently screened at DOX BOX 09 in Damascus, Syria, and won a Grand Jury Award - The American Falls Award for Best Western New York Film - at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival. Heckel wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited Unspeakable, creating a film form that unfolds her experience of her father's suicide in a way that makes her personal story a universal experience of family. She combines silent scenes with actors, self-portraits, home movies, evocative landscapes, photos, narration and voice-over interviews. Images and sound work as counterpoints to one another, creating an inner experience of memory and discovery.
One of Heckel's earlier films, A Jury of Her Peers, a half-hour drama, was nominated for an Oscar for best dramatic live-action short. Adapted from the 1917 short story by Susan Glaspell, it tells the story of a farm woman accused of murdering her husband in early 1900s Midwest America. Heckel adapted, produced, directed and edited the film. It won numerous awards and enjoys active distribution to high schools, universities and law schools.
Heckel has also worked with sand animation. The Bent Tree, a poetic visualization of a Yiddish folk song, created with colored sand on glass, has won awards and is distributed as a stand-alone piece.
Heckel's other earlier films, It's Not a One-Person Thing, a documentary about a far-reaching organization of grass-roots cooperatives in the South that grew out of the Civil Rights Movement, Ordinary Days and Lou, both non-traditional narratives about life in New York City, have been recognized with showings and awards.
Heckel is a recipient of production grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Film Institute, New York State Council on the Arts, and private foundations. She has served on film panels and taught directing workshops. Born and raised in Rochester, NY, Heckel received an MFA in Film from New York University Graduate Institute of Film/TV in 1974. (09/09).
A Jury of Her Peers
A film by Sally Heckel, 1980, 30 min., Color
On a desolate American farm in the early 1900's, a farmer is found murdered in his sleep and his wife is jailed as the prime suspect. The highly antic...